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[nim-buh s]
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noun, plural nim·bi [nim-buh bahy] /ˈnɪm bəbaɪ/, nim·bus·es.
  1. Classical Mythology. a shining cloud sometimes surrounding a deity when on earth.
  2. a cloud, aura, atmosphere, etc., surrounding a person or thing: The candidate was encompassed with a nimbus of fame.
  3. halo(def 1).
  4. the type of dense clouds or cloud mass with ragged edges, that yields rain or snow; a rain cloud.
  5. (initial capital letter) U.S. Aerospace. one of a series of polar-orbiting meteorological and environmental research satellites, the last of which Nimbus 7, launched 1978, was the first satellite designed to monitor atmospheric pollutants.
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Origin of nimbus

1610–20; < Latin: a rainstorm, rain cloud, thundercloud, cloud; akin to Latin nebula and Greek nephélē, néphos cloud
Related formsnim·bused, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for nimbus

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • It was like a thunderbolt in a nimbus—the rush of Flagg down the mountain.

  • He puffed quietly until his head was surrounded by a nimbus of smoke.


    Jesse Franklin Bone

  • The nimbus of the saint in his eyes, was associated with the crown of martyrdom.

    The Little Savage

    Captain Frederick Marryat

  • Above is a nimbus of clouds, and above the nimbus, the weighing of souls.

  • The gas-lights have no heart in them, and each wears a nimbus.

    Somehow Good

    William de Morgan

British Dictionary definitions for nimbus


noun plural -bi (-baɪ) or -buses
    1. a dark grey rain-bearing cloud
    2. (in combination)cumulonimbus clouds
    1. an emanation of light surrounding a saint or deity
    2. a representation of this emanation
  1. a surrounding aura or atmosphere
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Derived Formsnimbused, adjective

Word Origin

C17: from Latin: cloud, radiance
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for nimbus


1610s, "bright cloud surrounding a god," from Latin nimbus "cloud," perhaps related to nebula "cloud, mist" (see nebula). Meaning "halo" is first recorded c.1730. Meteorological sense of "a rain cloud" is from 1803.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

nimbus in Science


Plural nimbi (nĭmbī′) nimbuses
  1. A rain cloud.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.